One unique feature with Rwanda that sets it aside from many other countries, especially on our continent, is the language and culture departments.
At a time when a myriad of languages – sometimes running into the hundreds – are a source of misunderstanding, but Rwanda is no Tower of Babel. Kinyarwanda is the only national language, the other official languages; English, French and Kiswahili, are adopted but officially recognized.
Rwandans also share one culture in all corners of the country. One would have expected that the common denominators, would have saved this country from grief, but that, unfortunately, was not to be.
English and French are historical consequences which landed uninvited while Kiswahili was a result of choice for obvious reasons: The language is spoken by an estimated 140 million people in the region, and the fact that Rwanda is a member of the East African Community (EAC); it is an obvious choice for economic reasons.
Even though Kiswahili was adopted last year, it has always been a fabric of this nation, albeit with different dialects depending on the influence; East Africa, especially the Indian Ocean coast, is the cradle of the language, so it is regarded as the purest form, unlike that of eastern DRC or southern Africa.
That is why transplanting it into official documents is taking long and we still have to do with English, French and Kinyarwanda – for the moment.
The good news is that Rwanda Academy of Languages and Culture has made it its business to see that Kiswahili seeps into everyday use, beginning with small businesses. Being the official language of the EAC, it makes business sense so traders should also make it their business.